Monday, August 17, 2009

Author2Author Interview Speed Round

Tip of the Day: Buy yourself a lunch bag while they're on sale. The good ones are hard to find when the back to school sales end. Here in Upstate New York, we have three more weeks until school starts.

Author2Author has a mission. We're five YA writers at different stages of our careers talking about the craft and business of writing. This week, we picked each other's brains. What are we dying to know about writing, and each other? It's an interview speed round--we only got to pick ONE question to ask, so it had to be a good one!

I asked one question of Emily, our Miss Querylicious, something I need to work out in my own writing:

What do you do when you're possessed by a new idea for a writing project, and how do you know when it will be a good idea you can work on for a long time?

Emily says:

"Inspiration is everywhere and for someone with a bad memory it’s important to preserve my ideas. If I don’t, then the idea vanishes in an instant—no matter how unforgettable it appeared. As a result of learning my lesson, I keep an “ideas” file on my computer that I constantly add to.

"Before those ideas turn to books I’ve found it often takes several random ideas to click “together” to make a story grow. For example, wanting to write about a girl that gives advice she read in a self-help book with disastrous results combined with wanting to write about a missing celebrity became one of my books Don’t Ask Ally about a girl that gives advice to a celebrity and as a result the celebrity goes missing. The plot combines with ideas I’ve had about character traits, motivations, etc. that are jotted down. All of a sudden things become clear and a book idea forms.

"Sometimes it takes weeks of thinking about the idea: sometimes it takes months. Just depends on if I’m working on something else or not, and how strongly the idea is “calling me.”

"When the idea just won’t stop bugging me, then I at least try to write something down. Usually the first chapter, a synopsis, outline, or something to get the story out of my head. If it seems to have potential, then I might move onto writing the whole thing. If it doesn’t, then it usually just rests in my head for longer—until the day when I get another idea that “clicks” with the story and I can’t help but write more of it.

"It’s really a never ending cycle.

"Since I haven’t sold yet, I’m now finding new ideas to update old books and give them new life. Sometimes it’s small ideas, but it’s also been bigger “concept” ideas that make me rethink previous attempts at a novel. I haven’t completely rehashed the old books yet, but I’m giving them more time to settle in my brain until I can’t help but write them."

Thanks a lot, Emily! I like how your favorite story ideas seem to accumulate more ideas to them like they have gravity. Does anyone else have this experience?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

I agree with Emily: inspiration IS everywhere. I have a file filled with scraps of paper, all decorated with amazing, and not-so-amazing, morsels of potential books.

I love to watch people. Any chance I get, I watch. And yes, I'm an eavesdropper...sorry folks! So I may write down a scrap of dialogue or just some character traits that I find interesting. Sometimes they don't make it to paper, but I try to lock them in my head, anyway.

What I really need to do is make better use of my digital recorder! (but I hate the sound of my own voice...)

Alissa Grosso said...

Ha. It's like today's tip was written just for me. My lunch bag actually broke last week on me. Talk about perfect timing! I got myself a pretty and more importantly cheap one at T. J. Maxx today.

DeenaML said...

I don't keep an idea folder but probably should...I figure the ideas that ARE good enough to write will stick with me until I get to them....

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

I always think that too, Deena. But then I realized how much stuff gets packed in that brain everyday and hey! something's bound to get lost from time to time. Yesterday I was putting a new memo on my PDA and came across an old one from a few months ago. It was about my new book. A theme issue that I had totally forgotten about. I'm glad I wrote that one down. I might have come up with it eventually, but now I have it ready to launch.

Of course there must be at least 1,000 more still bouncing around in my brain...